Back to the Basics: Building a Firm Family Foundation


As we find ourselves entering another new year, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we will navigate things as a family. 

My girls got some building blocks for Christmas and needless to say, we’ve been building a lot of block towers the last few weeks. Our toddler has been pretty excited to build with the blocks, but still needs some help. Between her less-than-steady designs, and her little sister’s propensity towards knocking them over, we’ve had to start over more than a few times. 

When I help her, I am more concerned with the aesthetics of the design. I’ve been showing her how a consistent pattern of pink, green, yellow, purple, orange and blue form a tower that’s nice to look at, even if the tower is less than sturdy. 

However, when her dad (the engineer) helps her, he’s been teaching her about the importance of a firm foundation. He’s been teaching her how we build things from the ground up. He explained to her how the strength of the tower, through laying the proper groundwork, is much more important than how it looks. In fact it’s the most important part of the whole thing. 

Watching them talk and learn about foundations got me thinking about how these lessons in block tower building are lessons that we need to revisit in our lives this year.

In the era of social media, it’s easy to share snippets of the shiny parts of our lives on the internet, or with our social circle. But the reality is, when you’re in the thick of parenting, some seasons are much more messy than magical. 

We may want or choose to hide, or diminish the tough parts – the sleepless nights and sick days; the days filled with messes and meltdowns. It’s definitely ok to keep those sacred messy moments tucked deep inside your heart and home, away from the world. However, these difficult times in parenting can slowly wear down a family unit, putting pressure on even the strongest of foundations. 

This time last year, we were preparing for our second child, and preparing to live our lives in a bit of survival mode. As our littlest is nearing a year old, and though it still feels like survival mode on a lot of days, we are starting to gain some footing again. 

As anyone who’s lived life in survival mode knows, it takes some time once you get your head above water to feel like you are standing on solid ground. So, how does one get there? By starting with the basics.

Focusing on the things that are most important is the first step in the path toward stability within the chaos, as you move through difficult times.

As we move toward a new rhythm and routine that feels more stable and sustainable for us as a family of four, we can start focusing again on those core family goals and values that form our family’s foundation. Our personal family building blocks for a firm foundation would include things like our faith, quality time together, nourishing and moving our bodies, as well as getting good quality sleep.

As you enter this new year, maybe you don’t have big goals, dreams, or resolutions set out. Maybe like us, you’re in the thick of it, just taking things day by day. I encourage you to just start where you are and focus on the direction you’re going. Figure out what’s most important to you and your family. Maybe it’s time to focus on those key things that will build or strengthen your family’s foundation as you move through this new year, with a bit more grace and ease. Maybe it’s time to get back to the basics.

How will you strengthen your family’s foundation this year?

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Heather Blanton Burns
Heather Blanton Burns lives in Columbia with her husband and daughter. Natives of South Carolina, they love taking road trips to visit family, as well as spending time at the lakes, beaches and mountains nearby. Heather is a Board Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Certified Gentle Sleep Coach. She received her undergraduate degree from the College of Charleston and her doctoral degree from the Medical University of South Carolina. She cares for children of all ages at a small pediatric practice locally. She founded a small business, Cultivating Bright Futures, in 2020 to support mothers through education and provide encouragement for mothers at every step along their motherhood journey. When she’s not working, Heather enjoys reading, spending quality time with family and friends, staying involved in the community through Junior League, eating delicious food at local restaurants, checking out local events in Columbia and staying active through walking, yoga and barre.


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